The Adventures of Watson and the Bee part 3

On the drive home from our weekend in DC with my family, Watson and I had the brilliant idea to recreate the dish that I was so disappointed with. While I am at university I work for our dining services and I am always asking my superiors questions about food.  I asked one of the cooks about scallops, where to find them here and any ideas on getting cocoa nibs to stick.  He recommended a flour, egg, and bread and fry method. He said make a breading which whatever I want, let it cure in the fridge and give them a fry.

A NOTE ON BREADING:

Did you know that if you let your food sit for 10-20min in your fridge before you fry them, the breading sticks better?

This is why, by allowing the breading to have a chance to dry in the refrigerator, the eggs harden and shrink around the scallop. This happens as the water evaporates in the egg whites so that all that remains are dehydrated protein webs. It creates a crisp, waterproof layer that has hardened like superglue. The breading will stay on better while frying. The cook I asked about the scallops also confirmed this. My mom and I originally learned this trick from the Cook’s illustrated recipe article for pork schnitzel.

Watson and I did the shopping, invited my cousin Rachael and our friend Megu over and we started cooking. We could not find a celery root, but I did find the lotus root our plate was garnished with. We had scallops, turnip roots, greens, and cocoa nibs, everything we would need to recreate this dish the way we thought it should have been.

We started by making Tiramisu. We used a recipe that was given to me by a chef at my grandfather’s restaurant in Puerto Rico sorry to say I cannot put it on the internet. But it is an amazing way of making a light yet sturdy tiramisu.

Next we worked on the main dish…

The first thing I did was have Megu zest multiple oranges. I placed that and some orange juice, grapefruit juice and some maple syrup and pot and set it on low. I made sure our frozen scallops were thawing as a mixed panko, chopped cocoa nibs, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and paprika. I set the egg whites aside from when we made the tiramisu. (We only used the egg yolks). Instead of using all flour, I mixed cocoa powder into the flour and then the breading was ready and set aside. Watson pulled the seeds out of a pomegranate and Megu segmented the oranges.  Rachael made a salad dressing with Lemon juice and olive oil for the base and maple syrup as the sweetener. I told Rachael to add Parmesan cheese, pink pepper corns, black pepper, oregano, and parsley.

Meanwhile, Watson peeled and cut the two turnips, and a Yukon gold potato. She placed them in a pot with water, parsley, and fresh thyme. Once the roots were fork tender, we drained them and put them back in the pot with cream, butter and more herbs. The turnips and potatoes sat in the cream mixture while they cooled. I wanted them to absorb some of the liquid before we pureed it. Once the root chunks absorbed the mixture and cooled slightly, Watson ran the pieces through a blender and we seasoned with salt and pepper.

To actually prepare the scallops we first dried them with paper towels, floured them in a mixture of flour and cocoa powder, coated them with egg whites, then the spiced bread crumb mixture. I fried them in a mixture of canola and olive oil until the bread crumbs were crispy and the scallops were cooked.

A NOTE ON BREADING:

Did you know that if you let your food sit for 10-20min in your fridge before you fry them, the breading sticks better? For example, by allowing the breading to have a chance to dry in the refrigerator, the eggs harden and shrink around the scallop. This happens as the water evaporates in the egg whites so that all that remains are dehydrated protein webs. It creates a crisp, waterproof layer that has hardened like superglue. The breading will stay on better while frying. Eric (one of the cook I work for here at school) has also confirmed this. My mom and I learned this trick from the Cook’s illustrated recipe article for pork schnitzel.

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So we had salad- Mixed greens with a maple citrus dressing, orange segments and pomegranate seeds.

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Scallops- fried to perfection on a serving of the puree with the glaze drizzled around and fried lotus on top

And dessert, make shift tiramisu

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Our scallops had flavor. The maple citrus glaze was present. All of the orange zest had the chance to brown and deepen in flavor. I won’t lie, I should have added the zest at the end to keep the brightness but alas, I couldn’t change it now. At least mine had both maple and citrus present. It was delicious. The browned sugar taste played off of the bitter, sweet and spicy breading with the creamy scallop. The puree was divine! It was so smooth and rich. Everything on the plate really just played so well together! I couldn’t believe we had done it! And it was every prettier than the plate we got in DC.

The salad. Even more citrus. The dressing Rachael made had every complexity you want out of a salad dressing. It was sweet, rich and tangy. Then, the pink pepper corns hit you. They were not spicy hot, they were rosy and so full of flavor; the subtle heat and complex umami they were providing went so well the scallop plate and the other components of the dish. The pomegranate and orange is a classic combination anyway. With mixed greens and some Parmesan cheese, the salad was a hit. On the table we had more pink pepper, black pepper and lime salt. I wanted citrus. So grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime were all represented. Overall, it was a success. Watson and I had an adventure, discovered a really good restaurant and then made some good food afterward.

Thank you for being strung along on this three part story. I am working on another adventure but with classes starting I might not be able to post as often as I would like.

Until we meet again, Happy eating!

Bee

 

 

The Adventure of Cara and the Bee…Part 2

Welcome back to the DC adventure of the two twins in Washington DC…let’s get to dinner 

We were going to a place called Co Co. Sala, which had been referred to me by a friend and coworker.

“The Co Co.  Sala ambiance is a chic atmosphere which evolves just like the menu as day becomes night.  Surrounded by the chocolate theme, it embodies all different day segments from breakfast to lunch, to the delicious and unique dinner menu offerings, to the luscious cocktail list and the euphoric night scene. a.m. | p.m. … mmm.” (From the design page on the restaurants website, Co Co. Sala)

Sounds great, right?

We were so excited. We knew that for two college students it would be on the expensive side, but our love of food (and the fact that we had only purchased cupcakes for lunch) we convinced ourselves  everything would be okay. Our waiter and hostess were very “sophisticated” airing on the side of presumptuous and snobby. Even though they were not the nicest to us (we think they assumed we were high schoolers or something) we were determined to enjoy this experience.

Cara and I decided to split the manchego salad and the scallop entree. (Having discovered scallops are both of our favorites)

Below are the menu entries pulled from the website without the prices

MANCHEGO & BABY ARUGULA SALAD

caramelized walnuts / dates / apples / oranges / hazelnut & coffee dressing

SCALLOPS+

pan seared cocoa nib crust / maple citrus glaze / celery root puree

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How the scallop dish was supposed to look, this was pulled from the restaurant’s website Coco Sala

We should have taken pictures. When our waiter brought the food to the table we were presented with two bowls of greens, one large and one small. Our waiter informed us that the scallops were under the greens in the large bowl. We thanked him, blessed the food, and ate.

Everything was cooked wonderfully, but the dishes did not deliver what was promised.

The salad: the walnuts were not caramelized, they were toasted, there was hardly any orange, the dressing was one note (sweet) and I could not taste any hazelnut or coffee. It was not the prettiest salad either. Everything was just mixed and mounded in a bowl with diced cheese on top. Everything was cut so small that the dish became a one-note sweet mess.

The scallops: 3 perfectly seared scallops hiding under yet another messy mixed green salad mound. I will say, we liked this dressing more, even though there was no maple citrus anything going on. There was no cocoa nib, let alone crust on the scallop. The celery root puree was good, but tasted oddly like cheese. To the point where Cara kept asking me if it was cheese, ad i had to assure her it was not.

I will say, Cara loved the atmosphere. And the place was modern/chic or something of that nature, but she could tell I was a little disappointed. If we were paying what we paid I wanted more out of these plates. If they wanted to make such claims on their website, they should live up to them.

It was during my frustration that I explained to Cara my goal in life is to be a food critic. I wanted to start blogging since high school. I had this great title and an idea for a concept for how and what I would write.

sherlock1-447196Are you familiar with the BBC show Sherlock? Well Sherlock calls himself the “consulting detective”. I wanted to be the “consulting food critic”. My career goal is to walk into a place, try the food and be able to offer more than an opinion, I want to be able to help even with the business stuff too. (which is why I am studying what I am studying) Cara’s response was just really encouraging. She told me to stop waiting and to just do it…so here we are. She also asked that if I was Sherlock, could she be Watson? So that is why Cara is Watson.

I told Watson that they had let me down so much that I didn’t want to give them the chance with dessert. We would get the check and leave, so we did.

Yelp led us to a place called DGBG just a block away for dessert. When we walked in the atmosphere was so warm and inviting and the host happily supplied us with dissert menus before we decided to stay.

We were seated and ordered the following:

ROCKY ROAD PROFITEROLE.
coffee-cardamom ice cream, marshmallow, hazelnut, hot chocolate sauce

SOUFFLÉ CHAUD.
grand marnier soufflé, vanilla anglaise

The server brought us our dessert. There was a soufflé and a chocolate dome with a little bit of gold leaf on top. We thought that was it…but the server didn’t leave. He preceded to pour the hot chocolate sauce onto the chocolate dome. It of course melted slowly but it was amazing! It was an at the table Magic Trick.

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The Souflee, pulled from DGBD on Intsagram

We thought that was all, but he cut an x into the top of the soufflé with one of our spoons and poured in the anglase. The soufflé raised a little bit and then began to lower slowing.

I dug my spoon into the ice cream picking up all of the layers.

I could taste everything

THIS was TRULY amazing.

The look on Watson’s face said it all. We were both amazed. The hot chocolate sauce was warm, with the cool creamy ice cream, chewy marshmallow, toasted nuts, and the crisp pastry that it was all sitting on. Everything, literarily every component was spot on.

I took my spoon to the soufflé. My first soufflé. WOW. That is all I can say.  Creaming and fluffy and wonderful and so full of flavor. I thought the vanilla got a little lost but overall I was really impressed.

We left happy and the staff wished us luck with the next part of our adventure. Watson and I have promised each other that we will go back one day, but not or just dessert. My complements to the chef, the staff and the owner. Thank you for making eating in the nations capital worth it.

Mikky Ekko, sir, you were amazing.

But the adventure still isn’t over. In the third and final part of this story we went back home and recreated CoCo. Sala’s dish, except he way we think it should have been done.

 

 

The Adventures of Cara and the Bee…Part 1

Hello World!

This is the first of many installments as a “potential blogger” so let the adventures begin with my new friend Cara. (Who will now be referred to as Watson after this story. Will be explained towards the end of the adventure)

So who on the earth is Cara?

Cara and I met in my college small group, that is part of an on campus ministry we are both involved in. We discovered we have the same birthday (DOWN TO THE YEAR) and we decided that because we were  born as twins, we are now and will be twins.

Something we bonded over was the discovery that we both listen to Mikky Ekko (if you don’t know who he is go look up a song called Smile, or Stay by Rhianna…I hope that helps…). So this last fall, Cara and I traveled to DC for a weekend to see him in concert at a small venue by the 9:30 club called “U Street Music Hall”.

Cara is from Baltimore and the closest city to my current home is Washington DC. I was so excited about this weekend because this was the first time I would be able to share my hometown and my city with a new friend. I wanted to show Cara everything I loved about my hometown and my city…we were about to drink lots of really good coffee…

Cara has an affinity for all things lemon. This was like a “challenge accepted” for me and my mom. We had our family spaghetti a lemone for dinner with lemon chicken AND a lemon dressed salad.

A note on Sulfites:

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Space filling model of a Sulfite ion SO3(-2)

Cara is allergic to sulfites. If she eats them she gets hives and it is not pleasant. So what are sulfates and where are they found? My mom and I found them in many things when we were cooking our lemon themed Italian meal for my new friend.

What is a sulfite? Compounds that contain a Sulfite Ion (SO3 (-2)), which are the conjugate bases of a bisulfates, just a fancy way of saying a compound with two sulfates. Sulfites are made in acid/base reactions when water reacts with an acid, or a base, to form a conjugate base, or conjugate acid.

So many things that you consume in your daily life have sulfates and this is why. From an aspiring food scientist’s perspective, sulfites are used as preservatives, or to halt/prevent fermentation. This is why they are more common in fruit, vegetable, alcoholic and prepared products. Look for sulfites in wine, salad dressings, dried fruits, and balsamic vinegar (stopping the fermentation process) lemon juice from concentrate (preventing fermentation) and cold cuts (preservative).

What to look for on your food label: Potassium bisulfite, potassium metabisulfite, Sodium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite or sodium sulfite.

Are they harmful? To most no, they are not harmful, however a lot of people react to them even though they are not allergic.  Sulfites are listed as one of the top 9 allergens according to the FDA.

Back to the story…

For breakfast the next morning we made Belgian style yeast waffles and homemade, sage and brown sugar, turkey sausage.  I made a brown butter orange glaze (yes orange, not lemon) for the waffles instead of syrup and we also had fresh berries that my dad had bought for us.

Saturday and Baked and Wired

Our goal that Saturday was to go thrifting to find dresses for a semi-formal that was approaching in December and also hopefully eat some good food along the way.

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The updated espresso bar of the “Wired” side, taken from Instagram

Our first stop once we made it into the city was a shop in Georgetown called Baked and Wired.  My  friend from home, Noa, told me about this place and the first time I went, I knew it was love at first sight. Baked and Wired is a very small place, only growing in popularity over the years. There is one main door and then the place splits into two, get wired on the right (coffee house half) get baked to the left (café half). The whole place belongs on Pinterest. My favorite part is this wall at the end of the wired half that has been painted with every color you can think of. It is so warm and happy I felt right at home.

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The Raspberry Cloud, also pulled from Instagram

Cara got the Raspberry Cloud cupcake and I got The Tessita. The raspberry cloud is a lemon cake with a raspberry lemon butter cream, the Tessita is a vanilla cake, Dulce de leche filling and a chocolate hazelnut ganache on top.  The Tessita was named after the owner’s daughter and it is my personal favorite. Then, we each got an Earl Grey London fog and we were happy campers.

Georgetown was lovely. We had an amazing day. After no luck thrifting Cara got on her smart phone and found us an H&M and Forever 21 over by the restaurant we wanted to try for dinner. We got in my Mini Cooper and drove across the city (so fun around 5pm in a manual transmission, thank goodness we did not stall).

For dinner we found this place that had been recommended to me by a friend and coworker. We were going to CoCo. Sala.

…To be continued